Sara Collins – Abstract

Immaterial Interruption: Paul Chan’s New New Testament

Studies in Visual Arts and Communication – an international journal / Dec 2014 1(2)

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“Immaterial Interruption” investigates the 2014 e-book, New New Testament, published by the artist Paul Chan. Through the juxtaposition of scanned ready-mades and visual poetry, this article seeks to expand upon how Chan utilizes the e-book as a time-based medium that relies upon the operations of the digital, network, but instead, exploits the generative structure of this platform through processes of cognition.

The ascension of the image over the signifier was confirmed with the advent of cinema, and later, with the mass production and consumption of televisions. The television network has directed digital publishing in an economic sense, but the focus upon the speed of light associated with the image limits the development of a discourse surrounding a process formerly particular to language: the non-simultaneous labor of substitution and displacement. The subsumption of the traditional support of paper does not qualify the act of reading and writing with images as a disembodied project, but rather, demonstrates the full integration of the hyper-real within knowledge and communication.

Storytelling, or more abstractly, the transmission of ideology through a series of codes, is not experienced in the linear fashion of historical time, but rather, a layered evocation of images that synchronously exchanges and substitutes is a consequential result of this use of images. New New Testament attempts to slow down the speed of images by utilizing images as a language in order to produce a content not subjugated to the form of the e-book or book, but comprised within and by it. Unlike previous forms of e-publications, this work does not seek to substitute itself for knowledge. On the contrary, cognition operates on a continuum that is constantly generative. What is of interest for storage and memory is why certain images or language keep reappearing, and what processes of production make them disappear.

Aesthetic theory, Critical theory, Media Studies, Visual Culture, E-pubs, Digital Humanities